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Adele Amalie Gallitzin

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Princess; b. at Berlin, 28 Aug., 1748; d. at Angelmodde, near Münster, Westphalia, 17 April, 1806. She was the daughter of the Prussian General Count von Schmettau, and educated in the Catholic faith, though she soon became estranged from her religion. In 1768, she married the Russian Prince Dimitry Alexejewitsch Gallitzin, who was under Catherine II ambassador at Paris, Turin and The Hague. In each of these capitals, the princess, thanks to her beauty and her eminent qualities of mind and heart, played a brilliant role. At the age of twenty-four she forsook society suddenly and devoted herself to the education of her children. She applied herself assiduously to the study of mathematics, classical philology, and philosophy under the noted philosopher Franz Hemsterhuis, who kindled her enthusiasm for Socratic - Platonic idealism, and later under the name of "Diokles" dedicated to her the "Diotima", his famous "Lettres sur l'atheisme". The educational reform introduced by Franz v. Fürstenberg, Vicar-General of Münster, induced her to take up her residence in the Westphalian capital. Here she soon became the centre of a set of intellectual men led by Fürstenberg. This circle also included the gymnasial teachers, (whom she incited to the deeper study of Plato ), Overberg, the reformer of popular school education, Clemens Augustus von Droste-Vischering, Count Leopold von Stolberg, the profound philosopher Hamann, who was interred in her garden. The poet Claudius of the "Wandsbecker Bote" was also a familiar visitor, and Goethe numbered the hours passed by him in this circle among his most pleasant recollections. The reading of Sacred Scripture , necessitated by the religious education of her children, and her constant intercourse with noble Catholic souls, led to her return to positive religious convictions. On 28 Aug., 1786, at the instance of Overberg, she approached the tribunal of penance for the first time in many years. Soon after she made this zealous priest her chaplain. Under his influence, she underwent a complete change which affected all her surroundings. Her religious life took on a larger growth, and produced the most admirable fruit. She became the centre of Catholic activity in Münster. In those revolutionary and godless times, she provided for the spread of religious writings, proved a support for the religious faith of many of her friends, and induced others, among them Count Stolberg, to make their peace with the Church. Her gentle charity assuaged the distress of many, and she readily and generously assisted poor and destitute priests. For extensive circles hers was a model of religious life, and her social activity was for many a providential blessing. Portions of her correspondence and diaries were published by Scheuter (Münster, 1874-76) in three parts. This admirable lady was the mother of the well-known American missionary Prince Demetrius Gallitzin.

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